So Byron Katie is this amazing woman who came up with what she calls The Work. I like the summary on her website a lot:
"The Work of Byron Katie is a way of identifying and questioning the thoughts that cause all the fear and suffering in the world. Experience the happiness of undoing those thoughts through The Work, and allow your mind to return to its true, awakened, peaceful, creative nature."To summarize what you do: You think of a stressful situation, and it's easiest to use a situation where you're upset with another person. Then you write down all your thoughts and feelings you're having about this person. (There's a great worksheet that she tells you to use, and after a year of not really using the worksheet until tonight, I have to say: use the worksheet.)
Then you take each thought you wrote down and examine it. You ask four questions about it:
1. Is it true?
2. Can I absolutely know that it's true?
3. How do I react when I believe that thought?
4. Who would I be without the thought?
Then you do the "turnaround." If your thought was "He doesn't respect me," there are three turnarounds. I don't respect me. I don't respect him. He does respect me. Then think of three specific examples of how those statements could be true.
So through Inquiry (the other thing she calls The Work), you examine your thoughts and realize that your thoughts are your problems, not whatever or whoever you think your problem is.
You know, it's all that mind stuff. Your mind trying to make itself real, ego attachment, all that sort of thing.
You will also realize startling things about yourself. You know the whole thing about if you dislike something in someone it's because you dislike it in yourself? Yeah, that's the sort of thing you'll get here, only more so.
She dialogued tonight with a man who was so distraught about his relationship with his son, that he'd driven straight from Illinois to see her. His main belief that they examined was that his son disrespects him. By the end of it he'd come to see not only how much he has been disrespectful towards his son, but also towards himself. As Katie says, he owes his son and himself many apologies.
Quoting her: "If I am disrespectful, I see my children as disrespectful."
And then I love what the man suddenly realized: "Everything is me!" The audience laughed loudly and applauded.
Your son or your wife or your mother is not your problem; YOU are your problem.
Something I started to grok tonight is that I can do The Work on almost any situation with any person I find stressful, and because "everything is me," I will get to some real truths about myself that are applicable to every situation, because, of course, everything is me.
Another quote from her: "If you say, 'I love you,' it's about you, not me."
So we have these beliefs and thoughts, and our minds work so hard to stay in control of us. The mind creates its own reality to prove itself right. It will come up with all kinds of evidence to maintain those thoughts and beliefs.
One of my favorite things she said tonight: "All suffering is a projection of mind." YES.
Katie herself is so warm and loving and friendly and funny. There is so much laughter throughout the event. She herself just kind of glows.
We all recognize the absurdity of the thoughts (and we've all had versions of them, as she says, "There are no new thoughts.") and how can you not laugh? I find it a relief to laugh at myself like that.
I love her reminders that you are lovable and worthy. We are as kind as we know how to be. We are 100% innocent, we're just believing our thoughts.
Tonight she also worked with a woman diagnosed with a fatal disease (Katie: "Everyone has a fatal disease. Life is a fatal disease.) who is, understandably, struggling with her diagnosis and illness. At first, the woman seemed kind of grim, and I could tell she wasn't really getting it.
Her first thought they examined was "The disease is killing me." They worked through the four questions, and the woman was answering and going along, but still didn't seem to fully get it. She did realize that the movies she played in her head about her future suffering were what was causing her to suffer right now, not actually the disease.
Then they got to the turnaround, and she said "I'm killing me. I'm the problem." And smiled. She GOT it. The audience totally broke out in applause. It was so moving and beautiful to see someone get it and light up like that.
And then, the part that blew my mind, was the turnaround "I'm killing the disease." Katie said, "Doesn't everything have a right to live? If you're going to have unconditional love, that means everything. Saying 'I love everything, except that,' is not unconditional."
Now, I recognize that not everyone views the Universe this way, and that's fine, but I totally do, and yet I had never thought of this before. I work on love for everybody but not everything. Totally eye opening.
Whew. That was just 3 hours tonight. Tomorrow there's 6 more. I can't wait.